FTL: Faster Than Light is a "Roguelike-like" spaceship simulation game released by Subset Games.The player controls the crew of a lone spaceship affiliated with The Federation, which is currently on the losing end of a massive rebellion. The objective is to deliver important information to the remains of the Federation fleet in a distant sector. Unfortunately, as those familiar with Roguelikes will suspect, this is far, FAR from easy: the galaxy is an extremely dangerous place for a lone vessel, filled with dangers such as pirates, deadly environmental hazards, rebel scouts, hostile alien races, and others. Not to mention that the vast rebel fleet is in hot pursuit...FTL's gameplay involves the player's ship "jumping" between waypoints in a randomly generated galaxy, most of them containing a Random Event. The main game interface is a cross-section view of your ship, showing the layout of rooms filled with crewmen and various ship systems (helm, engines, shields, weapons, etc). During combat, the player must juggle various aspects of the ship—from crew assignments to power allocation and weapons targeting. Certain systems gain bonuses from being manned, but you may need those crew members to repair damaged systems, repel boarders, or simply evacuate dangerous areas. Meanwhile, all ship systems need power to function, but your ship's reactor may not be able to supply them all at once, leaving the player to decide which are most important at any given time. Along the way you'll collect scrap, the game's currency, and use it to upgrade your ship's systems, get repairs, fuel and—if you're lucky—some fancier things like new weaponry or whole new systems such as cloaking devices, teleporters and more.FTL was officially released for purchase from the developers, Steam and GOG.com on September 14th, 2012, although early beta access was granted to its Kickstarter backers. Speaking of Kickstarter, it is one of the first completed games spawned from such a project.In November 2013, the developers announced FTL: Advanced Edition, a free Expansion Pack that adds new equipment, events, weapons, enemy ships, and various other goodies, as well as an iPad port. Both Advanced Edition and the port were released on April 3rd, 2014.Not to be confused with the developer, which was best known for its own Roguelike, Dungeon Master, and its sequels. Also not to be confused with the trope Faster-Than-Light Travel, even though this game obviously uses it for getting around.
FTL contains examples of:
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Achievement System: The game has an internal system for achievements that also acts as the mechanism for unlocking new ships and deck layouts as they are completed.
Averted for equipment of any kind, which always costs the same no matter when it's purchased. This is balanced with randomized store inventories.
Played straight with repairs, which go up in cost the further you progress, beginning at two scrap per point at the start and topping out at four in the final sectors, to balance with the increased scrap rewards from battles. The exception is the very last sector, where you get free repairs from the Federation—it's not in their interest to charge you, after all.
Advancing Wall of Doom: The Rebel fleet, which after three jumps moves across each sector from left to right, replacing any jump beacon it overlaps with a fight against a powerful rebel ship that gives only one unit of fuel when defeated. Certain events can slow the wall or even speed it up; don't let those rebel scouts get away!
Aerith and Bob: Crew names range from normal names like Alex or Elizabeth to stuff like Luaan Ti and GMFaux. A lot of those names are taken from the game's Kickstarter supporters.
Alien Blood: When Slugs and Mantises die, a pool of green blood can briefly be seen.
Alpha Strike: A common and often necessary tactic for overwhelming the enemy. Assuming that a ship's weapon systems are upgraded so that it can power several weapons simultaneously, carefully timing their shots such that they happen closely together in a tight salvo can knock out shields, overwhelm defense drones, and set the enemy crew dealing with more damage control at once than it can comfortably handle. This is also a necessary tactic to employ beam weapons, which cannot penetrate shielding on their own. The Weapon Pre-igniter ship augment lets you launch one the moment a battle starts, and there's an achievement for using it to blow up an enemy ship with the first volley. Your enemy usually won't do this unless they have a cloaking device, since they never fire while under cloak.
Always Chaotic Evil: Averted—you can find reasonable and friendly members of all races. Even some of the rebels aren't too happy with the situation and are just following orders. Perhaps the closest you get are the telepathic Con Man Slugs, who were excluded from the Federation because of their incessant exploitative antics.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Sure, each layout comes with enough differences that it's practically a completely different ship, but one of those differences is a spiffy new paint job.
Your teleport and FTL drive are fully usable after the enemy has been defeated. This means if the ship is close to killing off your boarding party after the crew has been killed you can pull them out right away rather than having to wait for it to finish recharging. The exception is levels with environmental hazards like asteroids or solar flares.
The Critical Annoyance alert when a crewman is almost dead is annoying; however, given the action that happens during a battle, it can be a very vital clue that you're about to lose a crewman that might otherwise perish because you can't focus on everything at once.
When preparing to jump away with your crew still on board the enemy ship, the game will ask "Are you sure you want to jump away? Your crew is still on the enemy ship!"
If you have no fuel and are drawn into battle, the enemy ship will jump away after some time. While it does mean you have to take down the enemy in a short amount of time, it also ensures that in the case of a drone ship and your ship being a boarding-oriented ship, e.g. Mantis B and Crystal B, both of which have no starting weapons, you won't necessarily end up in an Unwinnable scenario.
If your teleporter gets knocked out while your entire crew is on board the enemy ship, and then defeat the enemy crew, your crew will take a shuttle back to your ship, so as to prevent an unwinnable state.
The Advanced Edition update offers an alternate unlock for ships which merely requires you to win the game with the previous unlocked ship. This makes some of the more difficult ships much easier to obtain. For example, the Mantis cruiser requires an advanced medbay and a boarding party that can beat a Mantis crew, but beating the game with the Zoltan cruiser does the job just as well. The quest is still left available, however, and is a separate achievement.
A death blow to the Flagship at stage three wins the game regardless of the condition of your ship. It is entirely possible for both your ship and the Flagship to be destroyed by each other's last volley. This is useful for the game/ship achievements and Class B ship unlocks.
Anti-Grinding: The Rebel Fleet forces you to go to the further, more difficult sectors, even if there are unexplored places in the current sector. The best you can do is maximize the time you spend in any one sector through careful jump selection.
Anyone Can Die: Those crew members that you've been with since the start of the game, trained up from skill-less Mooks with no abilities whatsoever into vital parts of your ship, can be killed off at a moment's notice. And the game carries on, expecting you to man up and find a way to deal. There's actually an achievement for not losing a man all the way through, aptly titled "No Redshirts Here".
As of Advanced Edition, Clone Bays, which take the same slot as the Medbay, can revive your own units should they die, although the cloned character gets a penalty to his skills.
Missiles, bomb teleporters, and boarding drones can bypass shields entirely, as long as you have the ammo to use them. One of the earliest strategies the game teaches you is to use missiles to knock out the shields on enemy ships, allowing the lasers to finish the job.
Crystal weapons and piercing lasers have the property of piercing a single layer of shields. Not as powerful as a missile, true, but they have unlimited ammo.
The Federation Cruiser is equipped with a high-power artillery beam that can't be dodged and cuts straight through any defenses short of Zoltan shields, as long as it has enough time to power up.
Enemy ships will fire any and all of their weapons as soon as they become available—this usually means that they'll fire out of sync, giving your shields time to recovernote Unless they have a cloak, in which case they'll often wait until it drops before hitting you with an Alpha Strike.
Enemy ships will also fire weapons that will almost certainly have no effect, like firing ion weapons at empty rooms, or shooting missiles at a defense drone until they run of of missiles. In combination with certain enemy loadouts, this can result in a ship which is literally incapable of hurting you, yet will try to kill you anyway. If you never shoot back, this becomes an experience fountain for your crew to use to their heart's content.
Enemy ships pick targets at random, instead of strategically targeting systems.
Enemy ships will deploy their cloaks as soon as they recharge, rather than waiting for you to fire your weapons. If you know how long cloaks take to recharge, you can completely avoid having your shots fall victim to the evasion jump that happens when the enemy ship's cloak activates.
Enemy crew members follow a specific pattern when dealing with threats, which makes manipulating their behavior incredibly simple:
They will prioritize the protection/repair of shields and weapons, occasionally even forsaking defending other systems to repair them. The former system is the absolute highest priority, allowing you to draw them away from other systems by having your crew attack it or damaging it with weapons.
They won't cease attacking a blast door once they've begun attacking it, even if another door is opened in the same room.
They will immediately retreat from any airless room. While sensible, this makes it trivially easy to herd a boarding part into your medbay, where they are guaranteed to lose.
They teleport into random rooms, much like how weapons will target random rooms. This means they can end up in a system-less room. Or worse for them, an open airlock on a ship with upgraded blast doors.
If the enemy ship has a teleporter, they will always use it. Even to send just one crew member, or to send in Engis and Zoltans if no other choice of boarders are available, regardless of how much more effective it is to just keep the entire crew on board.
They only retreat from your ship at low health, even when faced with a battle they can't possibly win.
Ships' arsenal is randomized; this can result in amusing situations where a shieldless auto-ship will attack you in an asteroid field, or a ship that relies on beams when your shields are strong enough to stop them regardless.
Asteroid Miners: You can do this in certain events with the Scrap Recovery Arm. You can also find sites left behind by other miners, some of which may be crawling with evil alien spiders.
Asteroid Thicket: Some jump beacons lead to them. Your ship is pelted with rocks, taking out one layer of shielding with each hit and causing damage if they hit the hull. Thankfully, they don't come fast enough to beat more than one layer of shielding, and rarely even that, but it does make fighting enemies more difficult. This damage also applies to the enemy vessel, making any fight very easy if you can take out their shields. Early on, it's possible to destroy certain ships without firing a shot! Alternatively, sometimes you can get resources by escorting damaged vessels out of them or salvaging supplies left by Asteroid Miners.
Attack Drone: Can be used once you have the Drone Control ship system. Comes in either laser or beam varieties, the former being useful for suppressing shields or doing heavy but random damage to unshielded enemies, and the latter being useful for doing even heavier damage to unshielded targets at the cost of being completely ineffectual against shields. Other drones can defend against incoming fire, especially missiles, repair damaged systems, repair your ship's hull, repel boarders, or be sent over to board the enemy.
The Mk. II Defense Drone fires faster than the Mk. I and can shoot down any kind of incoming projectile, including laser bursts and ion blasts, not just missiles and boarding drones like the Mk. I. However, like all drones, it's computer-controlled and has no threat priority system, meaning it will often prioritize a closer, weak laser over the more dangerous missile that will go right through your shielding. It also requires four bars of power to operate, compared to two for the more reliable Mk. I. It's good, just not as good in practice as it is on paper. Advanced Edition reduced the power consumption by one bar and made it slightly faster, but it still falls short of the Mk. 1.
Almost any weapon that costs four bars of reactor power to use, and even some that cost three. They are very easy to disable, since they're power hogs, and often have prohibitively long charge times. A series of weaker, less power-intensive weapons can often do more overall damage.
By extension of the above, the Type B Stealth Cruiser, DA-SR12, is this. A sleek, shiny vessel, it sacrifices the engine power, the Titanium Systems Casing augmentation, and the weak but efficient combo of a Mini Beam and Dual Lasers used by the Type A for a Glaive Beam and level 2 cloak. The Glaive Beam can often kill pretty much any ship in the first sector, but they're practically guaranteed to get at least one clear shot off before that happens, even if you time your cloak perfectly. Put together, this basically makes the first sector a Luck-Based Mission until you can find some shields.
Awesome McCoolname: A few ships' default names fall into this. For instance, you have the Mantis Type A, The Gila Monster, and the Mantis Type B, The Basilisk.
The Slug Type B cruiser, The Stormwalker. Unfortunately, the name's about the only good thing about it. It also turns out that this is the name of the Big Bad's ship in Clive Barker's Abarat.
Back from the Brink: The rebels are steamrolling The Federation so hard, they're represented in game as an Advancing Wall of Doom. But by the time you've made it to the last stand, you can have upgraded your ship enough to defeat the best ship in the enemy fleet three times over, turning the war around.
Beam Spam: Several weapons fire multiple shots. At the extreme, if you're lucky, you can have a ship that can fire 12 lasers at once, easily overwhelming just about everything. The Final Boss has a triple-barreled heavy laser cannon and a triple-barreled ion cannon, but will lose the second after its first loss. In the second phase, its Power Surge ability launches numerous anti-ship drones that will tear through your shields in seconds, on top of the drones it has already and its heavy lasers. In the final phase of the battle, its Power Surge move launches a barrage of six 1-damage laser shots at you, which is practically frivolous in comparison to the previous phase.
Beehive Barrier: Shields are these. The beehive gets more pronounced with additional layers.
Some weapons, like the Glaive Beam, are several times the size of their more basic counterparts, with damage output to match. The final boss has no less than fourBFGs: triple-barreled missile, ion and laser weapons, along with a long two-damage Halberd-like beam.
The Artillery Beam system on the Federation Cruiser. In exchange for never being able to use a cloaking device and having no target control over the weapon, you get a beam that can pierce all shields except Zoltan shields, and dish out serious damage as a result.
The Vulcan is a Gatling Good chain-laser introduced in Advanced Edition that increases its fire rate with each consecutive shot, eventually becoming fast enough to rip through any number of shields.
Bittersweet Ending: Your ship and the flagship can kill each at the same time. If the Flagship is destroyed in this way at stage three, you win and the Federation is saved, but your entire crew died.
A Random Event mentions that Rocks have no internal organs, but they're still vulnerable to asphyxiation like any other race. That said, their 150% HP will allow them to survive longer, which is useful for boarding airless automated enemy ships. Crystal aliens, on the other hand, are resistant to suffocation, though not immune.
Advanced Edition adds the Lanius, a race of metal creatures that suck oxygen out of rooms and absorb metal into their bodies.
Boarding Party: Some events will result in the player's ship being boarded. Both players and enemies can send in boarding parties if they have the Crew Teleporter ship system. Mantis ships, particularly types B and C, are designed around this, since they get bonuses in hand-to-hand combat and 4-man teleporters.
Boomerang Bigot: A sad example in one event. It tasks you with calming down Robert Smith, a Mantis who is convinced he's a human. Sending another Mantis results in Robert panicking at the sight of a terrifying alien and lashing out against his captors, eventually needing to be put down. Luckily, sending a human or using a Mind-Control Device results in a positive outcome.
An upgraded door system may seem unnecessary, but it can mean the difference between life and death. Upgraded doors block fires from spreading and force boarders to breach the doors first. This allows you to starve either of air or rally your crew to handle the problem.
Upgrades to the oxygen and piloting systems don't significantly impact their function; however, merely having an extra bar can allow them to sustain an extra point of damage before going offline, which can be crucial when a battle starts going south. A fully upgraded oxygen system can also outpace the oxygen drain of a hull breach, which is useful for dealing with boarding drones.
An upgraded teleporter system has very little practical use, since the majority of the time your crew will fight long enough for it to recharge. It does have one very important use, though; at level 2, the teleporter recharges fast enough to beam your crew into and back out of a completely depressurized room without killing them, making teleportation a viable strategy against drone ships.
Even an upgraded medbay allows for most "blue-choices" to appear during numerous random events, enabling the player to obtain better outcomes regardless of whether the medbay is powered or not.
The Burst Laser series. A gun that fires 2, 3, or 5 single damage shots may not sound exciting compared to the bigger guns and missiles, but it doesn't need ammo and chews through shields better than anything short of a missile aimed at the shield generator. The Burst II model is especially practical, using the same amount of power to fire three lasers instead of two.
The best way to level your crew is to find or create a battle where the enemy's weapons cannot penetrate your shields and leave the game running for by itself while you go do other things and your crew gets some no-risk training.
The Kestrel's starting missile launcher will be a mainstay in your arsenal, even as you get lasers that chop through hulls and bombs of radiation. It only uses one bar of power, and still has the shield-piercing capabilities of every other missile in the game.
The Ion Bomb is this. It does nothing more than disable an enemy system, expending a missile to do so. However, as a consequence, it does its task with such reliability, bypassing shields and defense drones, and at such relatively low cost in terms of ship power that as long as you can feed it, it can serve even better than an Ion energy weapon.
Boarding Drones against AI-run Auto-Scouts, for ships that don't start with any real weapons, like the Mantis Cruiser Type B. They will slowly but surely kill every system on the ship, doing one point of damage every time they take the system down, until the ship itself blows up after losing its last hull point. This doesn't work on the scout's larger Auto-Assault cousins, though, which are compartmentalized and thus prevent boarding drones from being able to move around within them. To beat those, you need to have a level 2 teleporter so your crew can get in and out without dying, leaving the drone to deal the final blow.
Basic lasers are dull, firing only a single laser beam and doing a relatively pitiful one damage on a hit. However, the Kestrel's B-type layout, the Red Tail, comes with four of them, which, combined with their single power requirement and a decently trained weapons officer, will chew through anything with two or less shields, and reliably put the hurt on anything with 3 shields. It's only when enemies start getting four shields that you need to seriously consider upgrading.
The Scrap Recovery Arm boosts your scrap collection by 10%. Doesn't seem like a lot, but over time, the scrap bonuses can add up to a lot, especially in later sectors when defeated ships dole out more scrap. If you somehow manage to pick up a second SRA, the boost stacks up.
Hull Repair Drones don't do anything exciting and spend most of the time stashed away in storage. But they can save your life if your ship is starting to break apart from all the accumulated Scratch Damage and there's no store in sight. They are especially useful for healing in between the three phases of the boss fight. They also help you save scrap you'd pay for repairs, if you have more drone parts than you need.
Break Out the Museum Piece: The default Kestrel was decommissioned already prior to the game start and had to be pulled out of mothballs.
Came Back Strong: A certain Engi event cause one of your Engi crew to be disintegrated due to 'a virus'. Win against the virus investigators afterwards, and said virus will reform your dead Engi crew with all skills maxed.
Can't Catch Up: A problem in the vanilla game, as even though you could hire potentially useful crew members later on, their complete lack of skills ensured they were only hired to replace deceased members. Advanced Edition averts this with new crew members potentially leveled in skills already, meaning it could be worthwhile to swap your roster.
Clipped Wing Angel: The third form of the Rebel Flagship; while it can take a lot of punishment, it's a far cry from the murderous second form. With good evasion and a well-aimed shot at the missile launcher, it will be practically incapable of hurting you. Its wings are even literally clipped, since the wing-like nacelles on either side blew up in the last two rounds.
Clone Degeneration: The Clone Bay system produces a clone of any crew member that dies, but at the cost of lowering their skills. Thus, while you will technically never lose your crew, they will not be as powerful as they could be, and you have to forsake healing them during battles to do it, which makes it all the more likely that they'll die unless supplemented by other methods of healing. Furthermore, while the Clone Bay does heal with each jump, it can only heal a maximum of 25 HP per jump.
Cloning Gambit/Expendable Clone: Advanced Edition introduces the Clone Bay system, which can take the place of the Medbay and replace dead crewmembers at the cost of losing some of their experience. This also makes it possible to have your entire crew killed and not immediately lose, assuming the clone bay is online, though an augment removes even that restriction.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each race or faction has a distinct color scheme for their ships. Their Type A playable cruisers all follow their faction's standard color scheme, while their Type B cruisers have unique liveries. Pirate-controlled enemy ships will have the standard colors of whichever race's ship they're flying painted over with crude purple splotches and pirate symbols, which the Kestrel Type C uses.
Federation ships are light grey with orange stripes, with the exception of the Stealth Cruisers, which weren't completed until after the Rebellion. This includes the playable Kestrel and Osprey cruisers.
Rebel manned ships are bright orange, with light blue stripes. Interestingly, the Kestrel's Type B counterpart, the Red-Tail, has Rebel colors. Rebel automated ships, on the other hand, are dark matte grey.
Mantis ships are solid blood-red. Their Type B cruiser, however, is navy-blue with turquoise stripes. Their Type C cruiser is a very dark cyan with sky blue lights
Rock ships are a rocky orangish brown evocative of sandstone. Their Type B cruiser is igneous black with red lights on the edges between armor plates, similar to the Rockmen themselves, who are dark grey with red eyes. Their Type C cruiser has the armor colored a shiny blue like their ancestors
Slug ships are a purplish-grey metal, with their Type B being dull red and olive-green. Their type C cruiser is a golden yellow.
Zoltan ships are bright green with orange viewports, with their Type B cruiser being dark and multicolored with glowing white viewports. Their Type C is a dark gray with glowing white viewports.
Engi ships are metallic grey. Their Type B is maroon. Their Type C is a shiny metallic grey.
Lanius ships are a metal gray while their Type B is deep blue with red structures between the plates.
Weapons that can fire multiple shots will only target one room. The computer can target multiple rooms with the same weapons. This can potentially allow them to damage or destroy several systems at once. This is especially bad with the final boss.
While rare, it's possible for enemy ships to have five layers of shielding. Player ships and the final boss max out at four.
Certain events begin with your ship being boarded, in addition to entering combat with another ship... which can then board you. The former can even breach Zoltan Shields, which are supposed to block teleporters while active. The game will lampshade this.
The final boss outright ignores most of the game's rules, though oddly does play by the four-shield limit. In addition to a standard Halberd beam, it has a triple-barreled heavy laser, a triple-barreled ion cannon, and a triple-barreled missile launcher, none of which you can ever buy. Each also has its own dedicated control system and crewmember to repair it, though they are mercifully isolated from the main ship area. Killing the crew causes an AI to take over, like that of a drone, giving it unstoppable repair ability. It is immune to Level 3 sensors, which isn't that important but does prevent you from judging just how much punishment a system can take or how efficient it is. It can field four drones (boarding, defense, anti-ship, and beam), not only exceeding the maximum of three only certain ships have but also requiring more power than your drone system could ever use. It can jump even if its engines are offline, since it's a three-part battle and it needs to retreat each time. It has an ability called Power Surge which allows it to either launch a ridiculous number of drones or fire a massive laser barrage in the second and third phases, respectively, which recharges. Finally, it's the only non-Zoltan ship with a Zoltan Shield, which is several times stronger than normal, and is the only ship able to recharge its Zoltan Shield in combat, an alternative to the laser barrage Power Surge previously mentioned. Exactly how advanced ARE the Rebels?
When the enemy is surrendering or ending combat, any weapons you fired off with a travel time will miss. The enemy projectiles, on the other hand, might not... This CAN win you the game in the last stage of the Flagship as your last volley before your destruction can still connect, destroy the Flagship, and win you the game.
Computers Are Fast: Specifically when it comes to cloaking and drones. A cloak-equipped computer ship can activate it the instant a battle starts, preventing you from getting a shot off even with a Weapon Pre-Igniter or beaming any crew over. It can also respawn drones the instant you destroy them, so fast in fact that there is no visible interruption in service in some cases. Advanced Edition addresses the drone problem, giving them a slight delay before they can be respawned.
Continuous Decompression: Averted, insofar as a difference in air pressure will eventually even out. A hull breach or open exterior airlock will drain the air from a room and then air in adjacent rooms will start to flow into the vacant room. Unless the decompression is contained with bulkheads, eventually all connected rooms will be drained. An entire ship with open bulkheads will drain in seconds. If the ship's life support system is functional and there is no further drain, the air pressure will slowly return to normal.
You found a pristine weapon just floating in space! Holy crap!
Cosmetic Award: While most achievements do nothing, each ship has a set of unique achievements that allow you to unlock a new layout.
Cowardly Boss: Justified. The Rebel Flagship is attempting to complete a mission that doesn't involve the player's destruction.
Crew of One: A ship needs at least one living crew member to make jumps. The Engi Cruiser Type B starts with just one Engi, with drones picking up the slack for defense and repair until you can get more crew. Operating with only one crew member is extremely sub-optimal, though, as you don't get bonuses for manning systems, you can't repair systems or fight off boarders effectively, boarding enemy ships is out of question, and if anything happens to your one crew member, you lose the game. AI-controlled enemy ships don't need crew and hence can only be defeated through hull destruction. They can automatically repair their systems, dodge incoming fire, and engage their jump drives despite not having a pilot, but they do have one weakness in that they cannot fix hull breaches and hence can never repair any system that has been breached.
The Type B Stealth Ship can One-Hit Kill most enemies in the early sectors thanks to its Glaive Beam. That is, if you can keep the beam online for its 25-second charge time, enough time for many other weapons to fire at least twice, with low-level engines and no shields, with only a 10-second cloak offering any real protection.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Type B Mantis Cruiser has only two crew, two drone slots, and no starting weapons. However, it comes with powerful shields, a four-person teleporter room, and is crewed by Mantises, who are the masters of hand-to-hand combat. They can make short work of most any ship by boarding it. If you wind up against a drone ship, however, you either have to wait for the boarding drone to slowly break and rebreak all of the robot ship's modules or just escape. Also, until you get a weapon, you are impotent against anything with a Zoltan shield.
The Rock Cruiser Type A has two missile weapons only. They are powerful and can take out ships in only 2 or 3 hits, but if you run out you can't hurt the enemy at all. An enemy with a Zoltan Shield or Defence Drones will often cost as much cash in new missiles to blow up as you get in scrap for killing it. The Slug Cruiser Type B has this problem even worse; not only does it only have missile-based weaponry, but it also lacks a medbay at the start, so healing your crew after a boarding operation requires the use of ammo-consuming Healing Bursts.
The Engi Cruiser Type A starts with an Ion Burst and an Anti-Ship Drone. If you can't keep the enemy shields permanently stunned with the Ion, the Anti-Ship drone, your only source of damage, will uselessly shoot at the enemy shields since it can shoot only one one-damage laser at a time. Because of this, it's imperative that you find a missile weapon or other shield-piercing/bypassing weapon or drone as soon as possible.
Cruel Mercy: When you damage an enemy's hull enough, they'll usually offer to give you some scrap and other resources, as long as you stop shooting at them. In most cases, they'll survive, but if you've damaged their oxygen they'll die if they can't repair it, meaning you've basically doomed them anyway. A similar thing can happen if you've destroyed their doors system and set a large amount of their ship on fire, usually resulting in them burning to death slowly but surely, or their ship spontaneously exploding after you've accepted their surrender. Of course, these things can happen to you just as easily.
Crystal Prison: The Crystalmen get a variant of this as a special ability; their Lockdown power temporarily coats the room with crystals, which upgrades the airlocks around the room to level 3. This prevents exit or entry until the crystals are destroyed. Handy for trapping enemies in airless rooms or keeping them from responding to boarding parties.
Cutscene Incompetence: One random event has a crazed Mantis rescued from an escape pod lash out and kill a random member of your crew instantly. Then you return to normal gameplay and fight him. Even the most physically frail race could survive at least a few seconds against that very same mantis, which becomes apparent if his next target is of the same race as the one he just killed.
Damage-Sponge Boss: The final phase of the boss fight gives the boss a Zoltan shield with double the power of a normal one and the ability to restore it completely after a while. This is partly to make up for it being weaker now than in the last two phases.
Deader than Dead: There are a few events which even a Cloning Bay cannot protect your crew from. More conventionally, if your Cloning Bay is damaged or unpowered for long enough after the death of a crewmember, that crewmember only has a limited time before they are permanently lost. An augment can protect your crew even if the Cloning Bay is offline.
With a new-found respect for flames, your crewmember's clone stumbles out of the Clone Bay.
The Mantis is shocked to see the crewmember it just slaughtered step out of the Clone Bay.
For the red wire/blue wire mine failure: Fortunately, your crewmember was close enough to the ship for the Clone Bay to revive them. Sheepish and apologetic, they rejoin the crew.
Your abandoned crewmember is waiting on the ship when you return, trying not to dwell on the fate of his previous incarnation it was eaten by crazed cannibals.
Death Ray: The Anti-Bio Beam, which does no damage to ships or systems, but does drastic damage to crew. Very helpful for defeating an enemy ship while leaving the ship itself intact and thus preserving more salvageable material. The Slug Cruiser Type A is built around the use of this weapon with supporting Dual Lasers and Breach Bomb, to clear out enemy crew without destroying their ships.
Defeat Means Friendship: If you play your cards right in the encounter with KazaaakplethKilik, you can have him join your crew, direct you to a valuable supply cache, and offer you the assistance of his ships, unlocking the Mantis Cruiser.
These are standard on most playable and enemy ships. They block nearly any laser/energy fire, and unlike hull integrity, they regenerate on their own after being knocked down.
The Zoltans have a special augment unsurprisingly called the Zoltan Shield, which comes standard on almost any ship they build. It's a non-replenishing green Beehive Barrier that consumes no power, is independent of the ship's normal shielding system, and only gets recharged during FTL jumps. It has limited hitpoints, but as long as it holds, it can block any form of attack and prevent teleportation. On the downside, it takes double damage from ion weapons and can be stripped rather quickly by drone attacks or asteroids.
Department of Redundancy Department: The title. But probably justified as this makes the game easier to find in searches when you type in "FTL: Faster Than Light" instead of "FTL" or "Faster Than Light" separately.
Desperation Attack: The final boss has an ability called Power Surge it uses during the second and third phases of the battle. During the second phase, Power Surge will launch a massive group of drones, though they'll go away after the surge wears off. In the third phase, will fire a barrage of heavy lasers that can overcome even a full set of shields if they all connect.
Believe it or not, missiles can collide and explode in mid-space. Drones also can be destroyed this way, both yours and your enemies'.
There is a special death message for dying during the tutorial, which can only be done by turning off shields, or intentionally running out of oxygen.
Survive long enough and it's possible for enemy ships to run out of missiles and drones.
If your teleporter gets knocked out while your entire crew is on board the enemy ship, and then defeat the enemy crew, your crew will take a shuttle back to your ship.
If you manage to take out the entirety of the final bosses crew, It turns out there is an advanced A.I on the ship forcing you through the three phases instead of skipping them
Difficult but Awesome: Stealth Cruiser Type-B is normally extremely specialized and difficult to use in the early game—that is, until you upgrade your stealth matrix to level 3, which gives you 15 seconds of invisibility. Since almost every enemy weapon takes 12 seconds to charge and can't lock onto you during the 15 seconds you're stealthed, the combined 25 seconds of safety is plenty of time to charge your Glaive Beam and One-Hit Kill pretty much any ship through the first few sectors.
Disaster Scavengers: Your crew often finds the remains of past battles and long-empty settlements, which you then root through to get Scrap, fuel, and other resources.
There's a reason the Crystal Cruiser is a considered a Game Breaker. Its weapons ignore one level of shields and don't use ammo, making it trivially easy to beat the early sectors. This is mitigated slightly by being the only non-missile weapon which can be intercepted by a Mk. I Defense Drone, but most enemy layouts will not have such a drone in the early sectors. That, and Crystal crew members making for a powerful boarding crew should you choose to go down that path—with, indeed, the alt layout of this ship being based around that strategy from the very beginning. That said, the process for unlocking this craft is so convoluted and improbable that you might as well have won a minor lottery if you get it.
The Rock Cruiser Type B "Shivan" starts out with Fire Bombs, a unique Heavy Piercing Laser and a strong Rock crew. The HPL is incredibly effective early on, charging fairly quickly and ignoring one layer of shields, while taking no ammunition and not being vulnerable to Mk I Defense Drones. While it becomes less effective later on, it's strong enough to the point where you can collect the supporting crew and a teleporter to assemble your Rocks into a fire-augmented nigh-unstoppable boarding crew for the late game, or else acquire further weaponry to help combat more heavily defended foes. It does have 2 disadvantages: no airlock and no door control. This means that you can't hurt enemies by opening airlocks, and no way to contain fire or extinguish them unless you divert crews from their position to stop it.
The Zoltan Cruiser Type B "Noether" starts with two Ion Blasts and a Pike Beam, which given an experienced weapons officer is actually enough firepower to bring down the boss. The two ion weapons can quickly and efficiently disable enemy shields and keep them down, and you can even divert one to disabling enemy weapons once that's done. And the Pike Beam meanwhile can do widespread and severe damage to the now-defenseless enemy, as it cannot be dodged and is the longest and most energy-efficient beam weapon in the game. More heavily shielded enemies take longer but can eventually still be rendered defenseless and cut down. Throw in a laser, an extra ion weapon, and/or an attack drone and you're pretty much set. The downside to the initial firepower of course is that your normal shields need to be upgraded before they can properly function, and you depend entirely on your Zoltan shield and evasion at the start, which can lead to hairy situations in fights against drone-heavy enemies or in asteroid fields, or fighting drone-heavy enemiesinan asteroid field.
The Mantis Cruiser Type B starts with no weapons at all, but its two-layer shield, four-person teleporter, defense drones and starting crew of two Mantises make it trivially easy to defeat almost any ship, earning plenty of scrap for weapons and other upgrades.
The Human type B ship, the Red-Tail, starts off with four Basic Lasers, single-shot lasers with a charge time of 10 seconds. While each one is weak on their own, four of them at the same time allows you to inflict more damage than a Burst Laser II, but with less recharge time. In fact, it's not even necessary to target the shields on single-shield enemies for the first two sectors since you can still do pretty reasonable damage with three lasers; sometimes you can even shut down an enemy's weapons before they can fire at all. Later on, swap them out for Burst Laser I's or II's to pile up the damage some more. Crewmembers manning weapons gaining experience each time each weapon fires — meaning you often max out the gunner before Sector 3 or 4 — is a bonus.
Almost expecting this, your Mantis calmly responds to the trap. Once a couple of the Slugs have been spread across the walls of their ship, the rest surrender.
Distress Call: One of the main things you'll be looking for on the star map are the distress beacons, at least when your ship is in good repair. On average, they provide better rewards than a regular beacon, and more trouble, too. If you run out of fuel, you can send one out for a better chance at rescue, though this can backfire into a more difficult battle.
Drone Deployer: While all ships have the ability to send out drones, Engi ships are particularly focused on drone-combat. In fact, Engi Cruiser Type B starts with three drones and only one lonely crew member.
Dummied Out: By looking through the Data.dat XML files you can see data for sectors not included in the main game such as abandoned sectors and quarantine sectors which would reduce fleet pursuit speed like in nebula sectors, and even data left behind to show that each sector was supposed to have a unique name. There's also an additional "Ghost" race, which has 50% less health but can survive without oxygen.
Easy-Mode Mockery: In a minor way. The in-game achievements list the difficulty level you unlocked them on.
Early Game Hell: Runs the gamut of straight to aversion of the trope depending on which ship you pick, and your general luck in what enemies are generated in each game run.
The Unidentified & Rock cruisers have the sheer firepower to destroy any early game ship, and Mantis cruisers are easier to blast through the early game with their ability to slaughter the enemy crew with ease, as early game ships lack the numbers of crew and the medbays that make them able to better resist a Mantis boarding party, or just a boarding drone.
The Stealth cruiser on the other hand is a very hard ship to use in the early game. Neither variant of the ship has shielding, relying on engine & cloaking modules to increase the soft counter of evasion against attack, instead of the hard counter of shielding. Taking one bad hit can cripple its ability to withstand punishment.
The Vortex, Engi Cruiser layout B has trouble fighting enemies in Sector One. It has massive drawbacks and very little positives.
Elite Mook: Some of the heavier enemies you come across; Zoltan Energy Bombers, Mantis Bombers, Slug Assaults, and the rarely-seen Rock Assaults all qualify. And the Rebels have of course have a massive fleet of Elite Fighters chasing you the whole time.
Enemy Civil War: The Mind Control system turns one crewmember against their friends.
Enemy Scan: Sensors grant additional information about enemy ships when upgraded. Level 2 lets you see inside enemy ships, and fully upgrading lets you see the exact state of enemies' systems, along with their power distribution. Advanced Edition adds the ability to track the charge status of weapons at Level 3.
Energy Beings: The Zoltan. They give one bar of power to whatever system they're currently in, but are more fragile than the other races at 70 health instead of the usual 100. Additionally, they explode upon death as of the Advanced Edition.
Energy Weapons: Three main categories. First there are the "lasers", which fire one or more projectiles of energy that do hull and system damage, can be blocked by shields but weaken them, and like all projectiles, can be dodged. Then there are the "beams", which fire energy beams that cannot be dodged and do damage based on the number of rooms they hit, often requiring careful aiming of the beam path. Their damage is reduced by 1 for every layer of shields they have to pass through, however, and they don't have any weakening effect on the shields themselves. And finally, there are ion weapons, which fire blue projectiles of energy that can disable enemy systems on impact but do no hull damage. If they hit shields, it's as if they hit the ship's shielding system, and hence their disabling effect is applied to the shield generator.
Epic Fail: It is possible to die during the Video Game Tutorial. This requires venting your entire ship of oxygen or turning your shields off, two actions that are completely unnecessary to completing the tutorial. The game gives out a Nonstandard Game Over for this.
Escort Mission: Some ships you encounter along the way will give you some payment if you agree to lead them to a certain area in space and usually fight someone for them when you get there. Luckily you don't have to actually take care of said spaceships and they don't mind if you agree to help and don't bother jumping to their destination.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Everything in the universe seems to have a grudge against your poor ship—from slavers and pirates to asteroids and suns. There are some exceptions—occasionally you'll encounter Federation loyalists who give you free stuff, people thanking you for saving them, and some aliens who will be nice to you if you help them or prove your worth to them.
Explosive Decompression: Averted. Hull breaches and open airlock doors will cause air to leak out complete with hissing sound effect, but won't affect your crew until asphyxia starts draining their health.
The Rebels are very human supremacist; on occasion they'll let you go provided your crew is entirely human, and it's mentioned that the war has made things hard on the Engi.
The Rockmen tend to be very distrustful of other races, and find them "repugnant". They'll help you only if you impress them in various ways, such as, by surviving the heat of a red giant star, by showing them advanced sensor data, or even by saving them from arranged marriages.
Even the generally affable Engi can become distrustful of aliens, at least when it comes to matters of highly sensitive technology.
Faster-Than-Light Travel: It's in the game's name. The "jump drive" variety of FTL seems to be in effect, with the common subtrope of a ship being stuck in harm's way while waiting for the jump drive to charge playing a major role. You progress through the game by jumping from one "navigation beacon" to the next, encountering a random event at each. If you get into a dangerous situation, you can try to hold out long enough for your engines to charge, and then make a Hyperspeed Escape—as long as your FTL drive doesn't get disabled, and as long as you have fuel.
Final Boss Preview: In Advanced Edition, you can come across an unfinished secondary Rebel Flagship in the Rebel Stronghold sector. It is roughly equivalent to the third phase of the Final Boss, except the weapon rooms aren't isolated (unless you're playing on Hard, in which case this is irrelevant), it has no power surge ability, and there is no AI takeover if you kill the crew. It also only has five crew. You get a rather hefty reward for beating it, especially if you do so by killing the crew. The battle serves as the new unlock quest for the Federation cruiser.
Final Death: For crew members and for the ship itself. You can only save if you exit the game. On the plus side, destroyed systems can always be repaired, and as long as you've got a few hull points left, you can repair up to full.
The Clone Bay subsystem in the Advanced Edition averts this, somewhat. If a crew member dies, he is cloned, at the cost of a chunk of his experience. However, this replaces the Medbay, and the cloning process takes time, so if the Clone Bay is destroyed during the cloning process, that particular crew member will still die permanently unless you have the DNA Bank augment.
Fluffy the Terrible: Since names are randomly selected from a naming pool, you'll often recruit dangerous Mantises or gargantuan Rockmen with names like "Butters" or "Todd".
Frickin' Laser Beams: Of both the "incremental bursts that are actually projectiles" and the "slice through a ship's armor like a knife" varieties.
Gadgeteer Genius: The Engi, who are themselves ambiguously mechanical lifeforms.
Game Mod: Although the game doesn't have official modding tools yet, the files are very open, simple, and easy to work with. Images are .png files, and most data is held in .xml or .txt files. Modders have already successfully modified ship layouts and added new weapons. The official game forums have a subforum dedicated to modding the game.
Ghost Ship: There are a few events in the game where your crew finds an apparently empty ship... things may or may not end badly for one of your crewmembers.
Glass Cannon: The Stealth Cruiser starts out with a cloaking device, strong sensors and powerful weapons, but no shields. Its Type B variant takes this Up to Eleven, trading engine strength and a defensive augmentation for the devastating Glaive Beam. See Crippling Overspecialisation above.
When your ship is invaded by more attackers than you even have crew, suddenly setting off a firebomb inside your own ship seems like a good alternative.
Similarly, if your sensors go out during a boarding or fire, venting your entire ship suddenly starts to look like a pretty good idea.
For the Type B Rock ship, it could actually be considered beneficial to use a breach bomb on an empty room so you have a way to vent the ship of air in an emergency.
Story-wise, the entire game takes place well past the threshold. If you want the Federation to survive, you have to do whatever it takes to get to them. Destroying defenseless ships for the scrap, taking bribes from slavers and pirates, ignoring those in need of assistance...it's all fair game.
Graceful Loser: Many of the AI ships you encounter will surrender to you when low on health, offering you to let them live in return for scrap, missiles and/or fuel. For some reason, however, they will never demand your surrender, so if your ship is losing a fight, you will have to jump away or die fighting.
Guide Dang It: Several of the ships have quite specific requirements to unlock, and the game gives sparse—if any—hints as to what those requirements are. The Crystal Cruiser is a particularly notorious example.
Hit Points: Your ship's hull integrity. Individual crew have their own hit point totals as well.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Opening the airlocks to asphyxiate fires or boarders can easily turn into this. If you door control unit goes down, you can't close the airlocks, and if your oxygen gets shut off, you can't repressurize.
Hold the Line: To unlock the Rock ship, you have to meet the ship at a node with a nearby sun, then wait for it to jump away and follow it to its base. Destroying it or killing the crew nets you nothing, and it will shoot at you while its jump drive charges. You can shoot it to disable its weapons, so long as the ship survives.
Honor Before Reason: If you make a deal to spare somebody, you take only their bribe and leave them alone, even if they blow up, which would allow you to scavenge the ship otherwise.
The Lanius, debuting in the Advanced Addition, fit this mold better than the actual space bugs. They regularly enter periods of hibernation and reawaken when large metal deposits make themselves available, like a galactic war providing lots of tasty debris, then set about consuming it all. Apparently they do have rules that forbid attacking the ships of living sapients. However, this is not the most popular policy, and a lot of lanius you encounter disregard this.
Tellingly, Mantis zones are labeled as such, it's their home territory. Lanius territory, though, is listed as abandoned. They've eaten everything.
Human Popsicle: Or Alien Popsicles in this case. Some random events have you reawaken aliens from stasis, such as the one that gets you a Crystalman.
Humans Advance Swiftly: In the Advanced Edition, humans learn skills 10% faster to make up for having no other special abilities.
Hyperspeed Ambush: Everyone in space apparently uses the same hyperspace beacon coordinates so it's not uncommon to find yourself in an ambush after a jump. Pirates and Slavers also occasionally set up fake distress beacons to lure in victims.
Hyperspeed Escape: If a battle gets too tough and the player waits long enough for the engines to get ready again he can jump to hyperspace mid-battle. Enemy ships will sometimes attempt the same, unless you disable their piloting or engines.
Hypno Ray: The Mind Control system introduced in Advanced Edition, allowing you to turn enemy crew into allies for a limited time.
I Did What I Had to Do: Of course, sometimes you need to make tough decisions. If you just barely survived a fight against a Rebel and you need Scrap to repair your hull NOW, you will probably have to take whatever fuel and Scrap the pirate will give you or risk getting killed. You're not going to like it, but Rule #1 is Survive.
Incendiary Exponent: Rockmen when invading ships in conjunction with fire weapons. They're immune to fire. And the enemy ship and crew, unless they're also Rockmen, are not.
Jack of All Stats: Humans have no particular perks or penalties, which makes them good for manning stations. The Advanced Edition plays this up by giving them a 10% boost to skill gain. The Kestrel, the default ship, has average stats across the board, is crewed by three humans, and can make good use of almost any gear you find. The Type B version gets a more rounded-out crew (a Zoltan and a Mantis plus two humans).
Jerkass Has a Point: While most events or fights have a clear cut "profit from somebody else's pain" angle, slavers offering to give you a slave for their freedom do have a very valid point: If you don't have a boarding crew or anti-bio beam, you're going to kill everyone on board if you don't let them go.
Keystone Army: Destroying the Flagship of the Rebels cripples the fleet trying to destroy the last Federation base, winning the game.
Kill It with Fire: There are several weapons designed to light an enemy ship on fire, the most prominent being the Fire Beam. Fire destroys equipment, consumes oxygen, hurts crew members (except for Rocks) and worst of all, spreads. That small fire in the security room can quickly turn into a blaze consuming half the ship. One achievement requires setting every square of an enemy ship on fire.
Lampshade Hanging: Even if you are in a Zoltan ship with your special Zoltan shield holding, which is supposed to prevent missiles, bombs and boarders teleporting onto your ship, you can still get the "attackers board your ship" events, with the game only mentioning, "You don't know how they got past your Zoltan shields!". That said, you still can't be boarded by actual enemy ships while your Zoltan shields are up, just by random events.
Advanced Edition adds a new augmentation that lets you board past enemy Zoltan shields.
Last Stand: Sector 8, whereupon you and the Federation face down the massively advanced Rebel Flagship. It's even called "The Last Stand" in-game.
Lawful Stupid: The Zoltan. They are members of the Federation your ship is on a mission to help save and are considered peaceful. They will also constantly harass you with legal requests and government business, up to and including attempting to arrest vital crew members or trying to kill you over customs disputes.
Law of Alien Names: Played With since the default name pool seems to apply to all characters regardless of species. This sometimes creates weird situations like having a female human called Pipaluk and a genderless Engi called Elizabeth on the same ship. Played Straight with alien NPCs, however; the Mantis in particular stand out, with names like KazaaakplethKilik.
Leitmotif: The Mantis, Rockmen, Zoltan and Engi have their own themes that are played in their respective sectors. In addition, there are what the composer calls Space Cruise Chords, Milkyway Melody and Conflict Theme, all of which turn up in multiple places in the soundtrack. Conflict Theme in particular is intended to represent the consequences of war, and shows up towards the end of the Mantis, Rockmen and Last Stand tracks. See here for more information.
Limited Loadout: Depending on ship type, you can have only three or four weapons and two or three drones, and each set can only use a maximum of eight reactor points.
Where weapons are concerned. In the later levels, higher enemy shield strength can render the starting sets of weapons unable to penetrate, while missiles will run out quickly if you're forced to fall back on them. Add on to that the larger weapon arrays, amounts of scrap necessary for upgrades and repairs, and other resource factors, and winning takes a considerable amount of favor from the Random Number God. And even if you've managed to scrabble together a decent ship, that won't guarantee that you can do any major damage to the Rebel Flagship. Normal is worse in this regard, since scrap is harder to come by. Easy, by comparison, often lets you build up a decent surplus.
The sector map generation can screw you over if you see what should be a link of sectors to jump to the exit, only to find one link is broken, forcing a backtrack to the start. Unless you are incredibly well armed you will die, or at the very least have your end-game wrecked. There is however an in-game option that will allow you to hover your mouse over each sector to see where it links.
Most ships can be unlocked simply by finding the relevant homeworld (Stealth, Mantis, Slug, Rock, Zoltan) or beating the game normally (Engi, Federation), though the Stealth and Zoltan ships are somewhat counter-intuitive. The final ship, however, is much, much worse. First you have to find the Damaged Stasis Pod, an event which can only be found in specific sectors and even then doesn't always produce the pod. Then you have to open it, which is also an event only possible in certain sectors. Then you have to find the Rock Homeworlds, which may not even appear. Then you have to find an event in Homeworlds that will allow you to finally unlock the ship. Each attempt can take from 30 minutes to an hour. Perhaps in recognition of the feat, it is easily the best ship in the game. Mercifully, a patch made the final part of that sequence a guarantee, taking some of the edge off. Advanced Edition added an alternate unlock method that only requires winning with the previous ship on the list, or previous type for the Type C ships, making it even easier.
One achievement for the Federation ship requires you to use your crew in four blue events by sector five. Even with your diverse crew, you just have to hope you run into events which allow you to do so.
Another achievement for the Kestrel is "Have six different alien races on your crew." Nearly impossible with Kestrel A (starts with Human crew only) and a little easier with Type B (starts with three of the six races: Human, Mantis, and Zoltan).
Macross Missile Massacre: Finally shows up in Advanced Edition with the aptly named "Swarm Missile Launcher." When fully charged, it fires three missiles for the cost of one. Additionally, an augment named "Explosive Replicator" encourages this attitude by duplicating your missiles half the time, extending your ammo by half.
Both of the ships that are entirely focused around boarding (The Basilisknote Mantis Type B and especially the Carneliannote Crystal Type B). The first sector is often the hardest, as you have virtually no way of destroying rebel drones (The Basilisk can destroy Auto-Scouts with a Boarding Drone and patience, but the Carnelian lacks even that) and you're stuck leaving your ship entirely unmanned while you fight on the enemy ship. In addition, since the scrap yields for the first sector are naturally very low, you're not getting too much more than you do on a regular run. However, if you can make it through the first couple of sectors and pick up some non-combat crewmembers to run the ship, then you probably have a winning run on your hands.
The chain-laser series in Advanced Edition start out with a long recharge time, but it decreases with each shot, to the point where they fire faster than most weapons in the game. The Vulcan takes this to the extreme; it's a four-power, single shot laser needs to be fired seven times to reach its minimum reload time of 1.1 seconds. That's faster than shields can recharge.
The Main Characters Do Everything: Oh, you've just jumped across half the universe, surviving by the skin of your teeth to bring us this vital information about the Rebel fleet? Good job. Here's some fuel and some repairs. Now go defeat their Flagship for us.
One last explosion marks your fate as your ship is torn apart.
All crewmembers have died. Your ship will continue to drift for eternity. Or until looters destroy it.
Martial Pacifist: The Zoltan at their best. At their worst, they're Lawful Stupid. But not always. The quest to unlock their cruiser reveals this to be their ideal, which they hope that you also strive for.
Master Of All: As of Advanced Edition, the special crew members you can recruit fall into this trope. If you manage to nab them, you'll find that they're fully maxed in all categories. One event can also give an Engi crewmember maxed out stats if you can beat your opponent.
Meaningful Name: "Lanius" means "Butcher" in Latin. The Lanius destroy oxygen just by being in a room and suck the metal out of their enemies' ships; they are indeed the butchers of space.
Me's a Crowd: Averted with the Clone Bay. The plague event has the possibility of taking away a crewmember. If this happens and you have the Clone Bay, you won't get the crewmember back due to regulations prohibiting the cloning of someone who is still alive.
Mighty Glacier: Rockmen move at half speed, but have 150% health and are immune to fire. Crystalmen are this to a lesser extent, being slower than average but faster than Rockmen, with 125% normal health and resistance to suffocation.
Only one ship will ever attack at a time, even if the rebel fleet catches up, though in the latter case you "won't have time" to pick up any scrap, and the ships you do engage will be pretty strong, leading to a net loss of resources even if you defeat them.
Averted with Advanced Edition. If you jump to a node under Rebel control (white zone, not red zone), an environmental effect called "Anti-Ship Batteries" occasionally fires an unblockable shot at your ship.
More Dakka: Possible in the vanilla game with enough laser weaponry, but now taken Up to Eleven with the Vulcan in Advanced Edition. It takes four power to run and only fires one laser, but after you've fired it seven times it fires one bolt per second, easily enough to overwhelm any defense.
Mutual Kill: A possible outcome of the final boss, if you're good enough to take out the Flagship, but not careful enough to protect yourself.
My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Some members in random events can act in contrary to their species' hats. However, due to the multiple outcomes of each event, that same event in a different playthrough could have the member acting exactly how you'd expect. One great example is when an Slug ship's captain invites himself for a friendly drink, and can either end with him thanking you for not judging him by his species and gifting you some scrap, or him poisoning you and trying to destroy your ship.
Lasers never need ammo and better ones can fire multiple shots, but each laser shot can be dodged or absorbed by one layer of shielding, requiring a fairly large number of lasers to overcome shielding in later levels. It is very possible to fire twice as many lasers as the enemy has shields and still fail to put a dent in the enemy ship's hull.
Heavy Lasers do more damage per shot and can punch holes in the target's hull, but have a lower rate of fire, making them by themselves ineffective against shielded ships.
Beams never miss and do enormous damage, but have longer charge times and their damage is reduced by 1 for every shield layer it must pass through, and they cannot damage shields at all. Only two beams, Halberd and Glaive, can even penetrate a one-layer shield, which means you need other weapons to supplement them.
Missiles ignore shields, but have limited ammunition and can be dodged or shot down by defense drones. The bigger ones also take a fair amount of time to charge.
Bombs ignore shields and defense drones, but share ammo with missiles and never inflict hull damage. Some can start fires that can potentially cause hull damage, but that's only one point. Breach bombs can create hull breaches to make the system harder to repair and drive weakened crew members to retreat. All bombs take longer than missiles to charge, too, and are just as likely to miss, wasting the ammo and the long charge time.
Ion weapons disable systems, but their effects are temporary and deal no actual damage. On the plus side, they generally charge faster than most weapons, with one ion weapon having the fastest charge time of four seconds.
Offensive drones attack continuously, but are limited by your supply of drone parts and are computer-controlled. Furthermore, they can be shot away by accident by enemy weapons, while non-drone weapons can be protected by layers of shields.
Boarders allow you to wreak havoc inside an enemy ship, but Anyone Can Die—often in stupid ways such as them destroying the enemy ship while inside it, causing their deaths, the ship getting destroyed by your own weapons if you're not careful, or the enemy jumping out with your crew members still on board.
Hull weapons will do double damage when they hit a system-less room, allowing them to inflict severe hull damage in just a few shots. In exchange, they use one more bar of power than burst weapons do and take slightly longer to charge, making them less viable for disabling ships.
The Federation Cruiser's Artillery Beam is independent from your other weapons, cannot miss, and ignores anything short of Zoltan shields to deal massive damage, but can't be manually controlled and prevents the ship from mounting a cloaking device. It also starts with a 50 second charge time, which takes a lot of scrap and power to upgrade into a more reasonable 20 seconds.
The Crystal cruiser has weapons which can bypass one layer of shielding, but even though it doesn't use ammo, it fires physical objects that a Mk. I Defense Drone can shoot down.
The Repair Arm will restore your ship's hull whenever you collect scrap, but you'll earn less scrap in the process.
Fire weapons can deplete oxygen, hurt enemy crew, damage systems over time, prevent said systems from being repaired, since crew will prioritize fires over repairing the system itself, and will eventually spread. However, the weapons that are guaranteed to start fires ,Fire Bombs and Fire Beams, don't do damage by themselves, and fires have to take time to inflict damage; if there is enough crew on board, and especially repair drones, the fires you start can be put out before they case any crippling damage, wasting your efforts.
In the Advanced Edition expansion, the new Hacking system can shoot out a drone that attaches to the enemy hull and affects a single system. This locks the doors to that room, makes it unable to be manned by a crew member, and allows a disruption ability that makes the normal effect of the room inverted or disabled, and said disruption is reusable. However, each usage costs a single drone part, the drone cannot be moved unless it is destroyed through ion damage or hacking, and each use of the system takes as long to cool down as cloaking does. Much like boarding drones, it's also vulnerable to defense drones, though it doesn't have a cooldown period between launches.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When you reach the Crystal Home Sector. Before you went there, the inhabitants were peaceful and happy, relatively speaking. And then you came along, and the Rebel Fleet followed you there. Now, presumably, the entire Crystal fleet is in disarray, and their home has been taken over by nasty Rebel forces. All for a shiny new ship.
No Biochemical Barriers: One of the Random Encounters consists of a human-inhabited planet sending a distress signal regarding a plague. While Engi and Rockman crewmates can help out with no ill effects, other alien crewmates can't.
No Fair Cheating: The save-backup exploit works like a charm up until you unlock a ship or an achievement. If you try saving and reloading again, that unlock or achievement will be locked again, and it'll only remain unlocked if you immediately start a new campaign with your new ship and make a new save.
No Hero Discount: Played straight once and subverted everywhere else. One trading outpost Flavor Text states that the Federation merchant is glad to see the military is still functioning, then charges you regular prices. The rest of the time, when you come across friendly outposts or allied forces, they'll donate scrap, supplies, or nifty weapons free of charge to help with your mission.
Or system use, rather. Certain events or environmental hazards negatively affect systems. A plasma storm halves your reactor output, drones may occasionally knock out a layer of shielding, Rebel ships disable engines every so often, and Slug vessels target your medbay or oxygen. If the system has enough power, it may only be limited instead of disabled.
One event lets you do this to an enemy instead. If you are using one of the Rock cruisers, an event can allow you to ram the enemy ship, which destroys the enemy ship's engines, leaving them unable to evade your attacks.
Non-Action Guy: Engis and Zoltan aren't very good fighters, on account of doing half damage and having 30% less health than average, respectively.
Non-Entity General: There is no indication of who or where you are during the game, and it is entirely possible to lose your entire starting crew without any interruption to your mission provided you always have at least one crewmember left to man the helm. With the cloning bay in Advanced Edition, your entire crew can die yet this won't stop you from fighting.
Non-Indicative Difficulty: The game originally came with "Easy" and "Normal" difficulties, both of which are major understatements. Normal is very difficult and easy, while easier, is still difficult.
The free Advanced Update added a "Hard" difficulty which is even worse. You start with no scrap and get much lower rewards and the flagship's missile and laser rooms are connected to the rest of the rooms, eliminating the common tactic of killing everyone but the laser operator.
Clone Bays allow you to No Sell several events that kill your crew outright. The infamous Cutscene Incompetence example of releasing a crazed Mantis from the escape pod notes the shocked expression he makes as he sees the person he just bisected stroll in from the next room.
If you fail to intercept the Rebel Flagship during the Last Stand.
The Rebel Flagship is within range of the Federation Base. All is lost, they've won.
If you fail the tutorial, the game gives out a special message informing you that while you're free to try again, "this doesn't bode well for your mission."
No True Scotsman: Several random events end up with you the victim of Fantastic Racism, with aliens belittling or outright attacking you. Understandable when your ship is of a human design and the few members of their species onboard could be considered Species Traitors, but this happens even if you're the both the same type of ship and only have members of the same species as the aggressors. Looks like they must not consider you true members if you dare work with the Federation, even if it is to take down a mutual threat.
Oblivious Adoption: One event has you help a some perplexed Engi customs officers detaining "Robert Smith," a panicked Mantis who's utterly convinced he's a human. If you have a human who can convince him to calm down, you return him home, where you find out that being Happily Adopted by a human family of engineers is the reason for his chosen identity.
One-Winged Angel: The Flagship's second form. It loses the cloak and the triple ion cannon, but gains insane drone capacity and the horrendous Drone Swarm. The one winged part might be a bit literal in the sense that the ship lost it's left wing-like nacelle after the first phase..
Orange And Blue Morality: The Engi tend to value knowledge and technology over their individual members. There is at least one random event where the Engi would actually prefer you save their drone schematics rather than their lives. They will still thank you, however, if and when you do save their lives, and will often reward you with scrap and technology. They may also join your crew.
Averted as of Advanced Edition: He now starts with all skills at maximum.
Percussive Maintenance: The Rockmen style of repair. Also possibly the only depiction in fiction that has ever applied this to fighting fires, since the Rockmen jump on fire to put them out. The same goes for Crystalmen, being a reskin of them.
Pet the Dog: The automated fueling drones. As only the rebel fleet deploys unmanned spacecraft, it means they have set up a system that will help anybody needing fuel, assuming they're willing to pay for it.
Occasionally, battles will be triggered by you being unable to respond to a transmission from another ship, with your silence being mistaken for hostility. This usually happens with Engi ships, which generally don't attack you unless they've been hijacked by pirates.
Occurs often with the Lanius. In one sterling example, you find a ship begging for help against a Lanius ship apparently trying to harvest it. You can either destroy it, or through a blue option find out that the ship is a merchant ship trying to dock which then allows you to trade.
Newbie players on Easy, and even experienced players on Normal can suffer devastating defeats in the first sector if they get bad luck or pick the wrong ship. The Captain's Edition Game Mod makes it even harder.
The Engi B cruiser starts with only one crew member. If your first jump results in an event with options that can result in crew loss, it's possible to die right there and then for an instant game over, without even getting into a battle.
Psychic Powers: Slug crewmen use these, revealing enemy and ally crew positions even if your ship's sensors are damaged. They can also see into adjacent rooms. Essentially, they have lifeform-detecting Psychic Radar.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: Human crew can be male or female, giving them different sprites. The alien races all either don't have gender, or they just look the same. Going by the various in-game texts, Engi and Zoltan seem to be the former, Mantises and Rockmen are more likely the latter. Slugs, the Lanius and Crystalmen are anyone's guess.
Ramming Always Works: One hostile encounter involves a Mantis pirate ship decorated with Rock body parts. If you're flying the Rock Cruiser, you get the option to "ram the bastards" before the fight, disabling their engines. Justified in that the Rock Cruiser's Rock Armor can totally take it.
Random Event: You almost get one at every jump beacon, which can result in everything from combat, to trading options, to situations that present you with an option to intervene or ignore it and keep moving. You can, however, get no activity at all, and the final boss is not a random event, for obvious reasons.
Real Time with Pause: This is how ship and personnel combat pans out. Use it wisely. The iPad version has an option to automatically pause when you aim, select crew movements or use door controls because of the additional dexterity using the touch screen.
Red Alert: Downplayed; all rooms are equipped with a red light that blinks in case of fire or hull breach.
Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Systems can be repaired, but hull damage can only be restored by events, going to a store, or using one of the rare and moderately expensive Hull Repair drones—which can only be used if you have a Drone System and consumes one Drone Part to restore between 3 and 5 hull.
Resources Management Gameplay: Not only will you need to watch out for your fuel, missile and drone-part supplies, but also for the power distribution of your ship. Careful management is critical in order to achieve victory.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Rebels are the bad guys. At the beginning of the game, they've already defeated The Federation. Now you're on a run through alien-controlled space to reach and regroup with whatever little Federation-loyal forces remain.
Robot Master: The Engi, possibly as a result of their partly-mechanical nature and their Machine Empathy. They make heavy use of drone systems, and their ships coming pre-installed with drones and have 3 drone slots as opposed to the 2 of every other playable ship. The lone Engi who pilots the Type B Engi Cruiser fits this trope particularly well, as he commands a 'crew' composed entirely of robots.
Rock Monster: The Rockmen, whose bodily materials give them 150% health but limit their speed. Ditto for Crystalmen, who are Rockmen's ancestor.
Runaway Fiancé: The "Wife of The Grand Basilisk of Numa V" event in the Rock Homeworlds has one. You can escort her to her destination, at which point you can either hand her over in exchange for scrap and an augment ("May your children erode to dust!"), or you can refuse, which draws the ire of the Basilisk's escorts but has the rebellious fiancé join your crew.
Save Game Limits: You can only save so long as the ship is in safe territory. "Safe" meaning not in mid-battle, in an asteroid field, or at a sun.
Save Scumming: Normally restricted, because a single save file is only made upon quitting the game and is actually deleted on loading. However, if you can quit the game, find the save file, set it to "read only," and don't mind the tedium of quitting/restarting the game, you can load and reload until you get a set of outcomes that favour you. Of course, even then, the game's Unstable Equilibrium often means that you'll have to start over anyway.
Scavenger World: Not the whole galaxy, but definitely large portions of it, considering scrap is the universal currency of outer space.
A common encounter in Slug sectors. Many events involve suspiciously generous offers, most of which turn out to be ruses to sabotage your ship. On the other hand, choosing the exact same option in said situation in a different playthrough CAN give different outcomes. For instance, a Slug trader talks to you about special deal for his wares for a while only to be revealed as distracting you from his mates looting your ship. The next time you meet him, choosing to talk to him instead have him appreciate your trust in him and give you some extra bonus. So the only way to know whether it's really a Schmuck Bait or not is to take it.
The many encounters where you find a person of questionable motives or sanity seeking to join your crew. Sometimes they'll join without incident, but it's equally likely that they'll be saboteurs/completely insane and kill a random crew member, lead you into an ambush, or both.
Schrödinger's Gun: If you pick up a quest towards the end of a sector, generally the quest will carry over to the next sector, unless you're in sector 7, in which case the quest will simply cancel out. What if there's a fork and you have to choose between two sectors, you ask? The sector you choose will be the one containing the quest marker.
Scratch Damage: Every shot that hits a room will do at least one hull damage, provided the weapon has some sort of base damage. Bombs, the fire beam, and the bio-beam are exceptions. Rock ships have a chance to negate hull damage every time they are attacked, although the systems hit are still damaged. The Stealth ship inverts that, having a chance at protecting the system but still suffering hull damage.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Both you and your enemy can do this, though it takes time for the jump drive to charge. It's generally unwise for the player, because retreating doesn't reward scrap, though it is useful for running through Rebel nodes which give almost no reward and are more difficult than normal. The enemy occasionally does it right at the start of the battle, either out of fear or to warn the Rebels, or when they've been damaged enough, but you can stop them by disabling their engines.
Secret Test of Character: In the Zoltan Homeworlds, you can encounter a ship preaching a message of pacifism. Listen to what they have to say and they'll direct you to another beacon, where you'll find a hostile rebel ship waiting for you! Talk to them instead of fighting and push for a peaceful resolution, and they'll eventually reveal themselves to be the Zoltans from earlier. They will praise you for taking their message seriously and offer their support, unlocking the Zoltan Cruiser.
All defense drones can shoot down missiles, asteroids, and hostile boarding drones. Mk. II defense drones can also shoot down incoming laser and ion shots.
Missiles, lasers, ions, asteroids, and drones can collide in space, although very rarely.
Short Range Shotgun: Shows up in Advanced Edition with Flak Weaponry. They shoot several projectiles with actual spread, with the expected accuracy and medium-to-long reloading times. Often better than ion weapons at stripping shields, but their inaccuracy leaves them ill-suited for the precision needed for most battles.
The Kestrel shares its name with a recurring class of warship from the Escape Velocity games.
If you blank the ship's name and press enter, the name will automatically change to "The Nameless One".
If you're stranded and out of fuel, you will get a wait option in your map screen. This causes random events to happen until the rebel fleet catches up to you. In one random event, a ship arrives with this subtle nod to Han Solo of Star Wars:
A modified YT-1300 Freighter jumps to an area near your sector. Your gut tells you these people are smugglers, but they seem to be feeling altruistic and present an offer of assistance.
One random event has you following the distress beacon of an Engi ship that has crash landed on a planet populated by brightly colored horse-like creatures. Go ahead, try to take a few with you. Interestingly, the event was implemented on request by a donor to the game.
The effect shown when a ship jumps, a spark-like flash that quickly moves along the length of the ship, is the same FTL jump effect used by the Colonial ships in the new Battlestar Galactica series.
The default name for the Stealth Cruiser type-B, the DA-SR12, is an obvious shout out to the Normandy SR-1 and SR-2 of the Mass Effect series, another frigate famed for its experimental stealth capabilities.
The default name for the Stealth Cruiser type-C is Simo-H, referring to Simo Häyhä a.k.a. the deadliest soldier in history. As Häyhä did, this ship is expected to use stealth and precise weaponry to decimate the opposition.
Single Gender Race: The Engi and the Slugs. All races beside human lack an alternate gender graphic, for that matter.
Skill Scores And Perks: You improve your ship through a skill score system wherein each installed system can be incrementally improved by spending scrap. Systems that aren't pre-installed on your ship can be bought at some stores for a scrap cost, after which they can also be improved in the same manner. All systems are capped and higher-level upgrades are more expensive. Also, main systems like weapons, shields, engines, drones, and cloak have their upgrades manifest by simply increasing the amount of power you can pump into them and you need to upgrade your reactor to obtain more power, while passive subsystems like helm control, doors, and sensors don't consume power and are improved directly. Crew members meanwhile improve the performance of certain systems by manning them, and get better at in the process via Stat Grinding.
Players can come across distress beacons set up by other spacemen who survived crashing into an alien world. These survivors can be brought aboard the ship and either become new crewmates, hurl themselves out of the airlock, or kill one of your crew at random.
If something goes drastically wrong, one of your crew members can become this.
There's an achievement for the Mantis ship having one crew member survive an all-out battle with another ship.
Something We Forgot: The game helps avert this if you try to jump to another node while your crew is still aboard the enemy ship by giving you a warning prompt asking you if you really want to jump.
Space Clouds: Nebulas, which cover certain jump points. Within, sensors are useless, obscuring vision of your own and enemy ships, though Slug Psychic Powers still work. Certain nebula jump points also contain a plasma storm, which cuts reactor output in half for the player and any enemy ships. Some sectors are one giant nebula, generally inhabited by Slugs, which don't impede the Rebels quite as much.
Space Friction: If a drone stops receiving power, it will slow down and gradually come to a stop rather than continuing to move at the same speed.
Space Pirates: If you're not fighting Rebels, you're likely fighting these. Usually they're a random type of NPC ship with a mix of the different races as crew, although some are exclusively Rockmen.
Space Whale: Never seen in-game, but mentioned off-hand in a random store description.
A Mantis crew here has hunkered down in the abdomen of a long-dead space-whale—the only way, presumably, for them to operate their black-market trade without detection. Worth a look?
Standard Human Spaceship: The Kestrel and other Federation ships play this straight, with their designs dominated by simple flat lines. The Rebel ships avert this, being moderately sleek and colorfully painted with no visible engines. Also, the Engi-built but Federation-run and human-crewed Stealth Cruisers avert this, being very sleek and glossy (for the Type A) or shiny (for the Type B), which is strange given that the ships the Engi build for their own use are extremely utilitarian and boxy.
Start X to Stop X: An amusing example pops up in Advanced Edition. Has a crew member been Mind Controlled into attempting to murder their comrades? Just use your own Mind Control device on them, and they'll be instantly brainwashed back to normal.
Stat Grinding: If you happen upon an enemy ship with a loadout that is incapable of damaging you, you can soak up their attacks indefinitely while letting your crew gain experience for it. With enough patience, your entire crew can be experts in multiple systems. Any enemy shot that misses you gives experience to your engines officer and helmsman, any shot that that hits your shields gives experience to your shields officer when they recharge your shields, and any shot you fire gives experience to your weapons officer regardless of whether or not it hits. You just need to keep your firepower low enough to not kill the enemy, such as by turning off most weapons or using non-lethal ion weapons until you're done grinding.
Stealth Pun: In one event, an Engi captain reports "an odd bug", and requests your help in debugging a Mantis.
Stern Chase: You're only ever a few jumps ahead of the Rebel Fleet. You can slow them down if you're zipping by all events or come across an event where friendly Federation forces will bog down their fleet with bad tracking data, but otherwise, expect to keep running for your life within a few jumps.
Stone Wall: The Mantis Cruiser Type B, at least early on. It has no weapons, level 2 shielding to start, a crew of two Mantises, and a four-person teleporter. Early combat tactics involve sending them both over to board enemy ships, leaving the shields to protect the ship since it has zero evasion in your absence. This is actually way more effective than it sounds, especially in the early levels. Plus, killing the crew instead of just blowing a ship up gives you a bigger Scrap reward, letting you buy more crewmates and/or upgrades.
Subsystem Damage: All systems and subsystems can be individually damaged. Systems with more than one reactor capacity have reduced effectiveness when damaged and can be disabled entirely if hit hard enough; systems with only one bar of reactor capacity are either working or not. This applies to enemies as well as players; deciding which system to target is one of the biggest tactical parts of the game.
Suspend Save: You can save and come back later, but this only lets you resume your progress once.
Take a Third Option: Called a 'blue option' in game, these allow you to use a unique member of the crew, weapons, or ship upgrades to get around random events; for instance, using an advanced medbay to cure an unknown virus, or using an ion gun to disable a defense system gone haywire. While standard options can pose a risk to your ship's hull, crew, or cost scrap, the vast majority of blue options are zero-risk, and might even contain greater rewards!
Taking You with Me: It is possible to destroy the Rebel Flagship, with your ship getting destroyed at the exact same moment, and still win the game.
As of Advanced Edition, Zoltans explode when killed, damaging enemy crew.
Taught by Experience: Your crewmen become better at the stations they're assigned to, become better at repairing the more they do it, and do more damage by killing enemy crew.
Standard beam weapons are named after polearms, while standard missile launchers are named after things in Greek mythology.
Human-designed vessels have names relating to birds, whether an actual bird or mythology figures closely linked with birds, like the Nisos.
This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Humans as crew members get a bad reputation for their Master of None status and lack of blue events, so Advanced Edition added a few bonuses for keeping one around. For example, one event has some Engi for help dealing with "Robert Smith," a Mantis convinced he's a human. The blue option sending your Mantis to talk with Robert has him panicking and subsequently being put down, while the blue option sending your human allows you to recruit him or receive an engine upgrade.
This Is Unforgivable: Occasionally, while fighting ships, the enemy ship will surrender and give you offers so you can leave them alone. Against pirate ships, the "don't accept surrender" option is labeled as "Piracy cannot be forgiven. Attack!"
Thrown Out the Airlock: Downplayed. You can't suck them straight out into space, but you can open up the airlock doors to suffocate enemies to death. If you've got upgraded blast doors, they'll be pounding to be let in while they die of asphyxiation.
Those Two Guys: Not in the game itself, but gameplay wise if you use two of the same species for boarding, chances are you're going to be having them both selected together a lot as it's both safer and faster.
Too Dumb to Live: Whether on their controller's orders or their own volition, unshielded rebel drones pretty much commit suicide when they decide to enter an Asteroid Field. You literally don't have to do anything but watch the ship get demolished by the hazardous asteroids, making it a miracle that it even lasted long enough to encounter you.
Total Party Kill: Damage to your ship's life support and/or door controls, especially when combined with fire, hull breaches or doors you left open to fight a fire or enemy boards but were locked open by an attack, can easily result in this if not addressed quickly. The same is true for your enemy.
Unblockable Attack: Bombs are unblockable except by a Zoltan shield, but don't do hull damage. They can also miss, dependent on the target's engine power. The Artillery Beam is even more unblockable—except for the Zoltan shield, it can pass through any defenses and cannot miss.
The Last Stand suddenly has you move in from the right side of the map to intercept the Rebel Mothership. Justified because instead of the Rebel Fleet chasing you, you are now chasing the Rebel Flagship. Your roles have reversed, and so has the direction you have to move. The Rebel Fleet takes over systems piecemeal and randomly; and you have to take down the boss within a strictly limited number of jumps.
It is possible to ride to the rescue of some harassed ship, only to have it jump away without offering anything as thanks. The game doesn't seem to mind, though—it points out that they wisely fled while you were keeping their attackers busy. Given that this is a universe where two ships will fight over who gets the rewards, this is reasonable.
If you use a boarding drone for the Giant Spiders event, the victims will be rather displeased with you damaging their ship, their lives be damned, and only give you a small payment.
Unlockable Content: Only one ship, the Kestrel, is available for play at first. Eight other ships can be unlocked, either by playing through the gamenote Reaching sector five, and killing the final boss, unlocks the Engi and Federation cruisers respectively or by completing certain events. Each ship also has a 'Type B' variant which can be unlocked by earning ship-specific achievements. Advanced Edition adds a ninth ship and the ability to unlock new ships simply by beating the game with the previous one on the list. It also adds Type C ships which are unlocked by beating the game with the Type B ships.
Pick up lots of scrap, take a minimum of damage, and have good encounters, and you have good chances to go far. On the other hand, taking lots of damage and being forced by the Random Number God into poor encounters where you can't get much scrap will force you to use that scrap in repairing and hobbling on with poor equipment, which will further lower your chances of survival.
Getting into a fight while orbiting a star can quickly become this if you can't manage the fires created by the solar flares. If your pilot control or jump drive is knocked out, defeating the local enemy will quickly become the least of your worries; add to that a hit to your door controls, and you'll never get ahead of the flares...
Unwinnable by Design: Unless you can manage to upgrade your ship to keep up with the increasing difficulty of the ships the game throws at you, it's quite possible to find yourself in a situation where you're incapable of killing your opponent. Boarding-based ships like the Mantis B are especially liable to find themselves in such a situation, as Zoltan shields and automated ships present a significant problem without ways of compensating for their defenses. The flagship basically enforces getting a strong offense up, as its myriad tricks make it far more formidable than normal enemies.
Unwinnable by Mistake: The Backup DNA Bank augmentation prevents your crew from dying if the Clone Bay is off or broken, which means they can be brought back later, once it's turned on or repaired. However, if all your crew die while the Clone Bay is broken, and you have no other way of repairing it, they will all just sit inside the bank forever◊, and with no pilot to charge the FTL you'll be stuck. You won't even get a Game Over screen, and must restart manually.
Useless Useful Stealth: The Cloaking system is one of the best means of avoiding attacks at your disposal. However, the blue options it grants for events usually just mean you're going to skip a fight, which you almost never want considering you have a limited number of encounters per sector.
Variable Mix: With the exception of Sector 8's special music, each music track has two versions: calm and spacey most of the time, but incorporating more rhythm and percussion when you're squaring off against a hostile vessel. One version automatically fades into the other as the situation changes.
Video Game Caring Potential: You can easily get attached to individual crew members. Rescuing hapless space travelers from rebels, pirates, asteroids, giant alien spiders, and anything else that pops up can give you the warm fuzzies as well. Especially when you encounter another Federation vessel, usually heavily damaged and always in trouble.
Many encounters end with the enemy trying to bribe you including the Lanius showing you pictures of their cargo holds. Actually, you can spend a few events trying to communicate with the Lanius. One of their surrender encounter has them use their limited knowledge of human culture to surrender... Showing you a video feed of them waving around make-shift white flags Looney Tunes' style.
You can accept bribes from pirates to leave them alone when you find them attacking another ship, agree to hand over one of your crew to slavers in order for the rest to go free, and cruise right on by desperate pleas for help without stopping. For more hands-on cruelty potential, you can deal with enemy boarding parties by opening up your airlocks and letting them suffocate. Some of the game's achievements actually encourage cruelty to your enemies—such as one that requires you to drain an enemy ship of oxygen, while another requires you to Kill It with Fire by having every single square of an enemy ship ablaze at the same time.
There is also an event that encourages cruelty where you meet a pirate who is trying to extort resources from a planet-side colony and can "show him how it's done" by igniting their villages with fire bombs, should you choose to, granting better rewards.
One of the achievements to unlock the Type B Mantis Cruiser requires you to defeat the last enemy crewmember on their ship with your last crewmember. The easiest way to do this is to kill all but one of their crew, beam back, suffocate your entire crew save one, then finish the job on their ship.
Video Game Time: Making a few FTL jumps in a matter of a few minutes will cause the Rebel fleet to advance or the Rebel Flagship to take action, but you can idle around or fight an enemy ship nonstop all day and the Rebels will be more than patient enough to wait for you until you jump to another beacon.
Wave Motion Gun: The Artillery Beam. It takes up its own module instead of being incorporated into your weapons, and bypasses all shields except Zoltan shields. It also cuts across multiple rooms like all beam weapons in the game, dealing 4-5 damage to most ships, and sometimes more. The Glaive Beam is available to all ships and is flat-out the strongest weapon in the game, able to do up to 12 damage in one sweep if it hits four rooms and no shields block it.
Weaksauce Weakness: AI-controlled crewless ships can't repair hull breaches. Because a damaged system can't be repaired as long as there is a fire or a hull breach in the same room, this means breaching a system room and destroying the system will destroy it permanently.
Weaponized Teleportation: Teleports pass through shields easily, which the "bomb" weapon type exploits, teleporting an explosive device directly into the ship and damaging a system. They can't be blocked by defense drones like missiles can, but they only damage systems and not both systems and hull like missiles.
We Have Reserves: The entire point of the Cloning subsystem. Who cares if your men keep dying? There's more where they came from. Can your enemy say the same? If they can, then this isn't quite as viable.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Cosmetic?: The alternate layouts often feature new weapon loadouts, crew rosters, and different systems. For example, the Kestrel Type B has four crew, two of which are non-human, compared to the three humans of the base layout.
What the Hell, Hero?: A few events will call you out if you choose not to help out. At least one is particularly nasty about it; if you opt not to help a ship struggling through an Asteroid Thicket, sometimes they'll make it out alive without you and relay your location to the rebel fleet as revenge, speeding up the fleet for the next two jumps.
Advanced Edition adds an event where you can steal supplies from a rebel colony. Assuming they don't booby-trap it, they'll cite you as an example of why the rebels have support.
What You Are in the Dark: The game doesn't have an explicit Karma Meter, but many events will test your morality. Do you take the bribe of a pirate and let him go after some ship, or do you take him on? When a slaver offers gifts in exchange for letting them live, do you accept and let him live to continue his dirty work, or do you finish the job? Do you help when asked for it, even if it may cost you health, ammo or crew? There's no one around who will judge you, only your conscience. Choose, skipper.
Wire Dilemma: You can run into one of these during a special event in which your ship has to dodge an active mine. Fail to dodge it or be unable to Take a Third Option and the mine will attach to your ship, forcing a crew member to go outside and try to defuse it. You are then prompted to cut a red or blue wire. Cut the right one, and the mine is disarmed and you deconstruct it for scrap. Cut the wrong one, and the mine explodes, doing significant damage to your hull as well as ending the unlucky crew member tasked with disarming it.
One random event has a Rebel soldier teleport on to your ship, hoping to defect from them and join your crew. You can either reject his offer, or let him join. However, if you let him join, he will either A) be a loyal crewmate, which is always a plus, or B) immediately betray you and Back Stab one of your crewmates, killing him or her.
Slug ships occasionally claim to be unarmed and seeking asylum, before weapons spring from their hull and they attack.
Many deaths are related to oxygen/fire issues, such as:
Accidentally depressurizing half your ship by forgetting to close an airlock.
Repairing the oxygen room, but forgetting to put power back into it and not noticing until your crew start dying.
Being in a plasma storm in a nebula, and deactivating the oxygen to activate just one more shield or weapon to prevent hull damage, then forgetting to turn it back on in the confusion or turning on too late.
Screwing up the anti-fire door shuffle, and watching your oxygen, door control and/or medbay get burnt by the fire or hit by enemy weapons. Resulting in crew that have a choice of dying from asphyxiation or fire.
Your door or oxygen system getting hit while your ship is on fire, hull breached or with external doors open.
Throwing units in the medical bay during a battle, with a ship with low oxygen levels, and/or to fight boarders and forgetting to put power into it.
Certain events can inflict hull damage which can result in a heavily damaged ship being destroyed.
Certain events can cause crew loss. They do not make exceptions if you have only one crew member left.
Boarding an enemy ship during heated combat can result in a number of stupid deaths for your crew as your attention is drawn to one area when you need it on another:
Teleporting your crew onto an enemy ship, only to see it warp away.
The Federation Cruiser's Artillery Beam special weapon is not controllable by the player in any way except by powering it down. This can lead to situations when, after boarding a ship, it shoots the beam at a compartment your boarding party are in, which can kill your crew through friendly fire if they're already at low health.
Forgetting to turn off auto-fire and accidentally destroying the opposing ship with your crew on board.
Forgetting that having your boarding party destroy a system results in hull damage, with the hull already critical. A ship with 1 hull point left whose crew have retreated to the medbay, will leave your boarding party to attack some other system which, if they destroy it, will blow up the ship with themselves on it.
Watching your boarding team get taken out because the enemy has a cloak and they got stuck in a combat situation they can't win, unable to get back to your ship since a cloak blocks teleporting.
In the same vein, teleporting onto a ship with upgraded doors and being killed by a lack of oxygen, or getting stuck in a medbay or against overwhelming numbers of enemy crew.
Teleporting crew onto an AI Drone ship with a Level 1 teleporter. Drone craft have no atmosphere, and your crew will die before the Level 1 teleport recharges. Level 2 is fine, but cuts it close. Rockmen can last a little longer with their 150% health, and Crystals have improved suffocation resistence.
Similar to the above, accidentally picking the wrong crew to teleport to an AI Drone ship, and sending a Zoltan instead of a crewmember from a more suitable race. Their lowered health prevents them from surviving long enough for a level 2 teleport to save them.
Forgetting you turned your weapons onto auto-fire and wasting shots/charge time OR forgetting that you turned it off and missing damaging important systems.
Firing a weapon too soon, ie. a beam or a laser before another weapon, like a missile or a bomb, has time to actually connect and disable the shields.
Deciding to hold off healing a crew member just to have him/her killed by a breaching weapon.
Forgetting to return units to stations, heal them, repair systems, etc. before jumping into combat.
Forgetting to buy repairs/fuel/missiles/drones before porting.
Forgetting to check if that beacon leads to where leads to where you want to go and misjudging the rebel's advance just to get bogged in Desperation Attack against the fleet.
Giving supplies to a passing ship for the rewards or the good feeling and forgetting that: 1. you don't have the supplies and/or, 2. this type of event can give you a benefit that you don't need, like map data when you are on the second to last beacon or getting a augment you can't keep/already have.
Certain events can result in six boarders appearing on your ship. This often exceeds the amount of crew a player will have under their control for the majority of their attempts.
The player themselves can use this strategy with the use of the Clone Bay, which allows sending inexhaustible waves of boarders onto the enemy ship. Combine with a four-man Teleporter for maximum effect.